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These days it's not enough to simply "be in the cloud." You need to be cloud smart and develop a holistic plan for intelligently managing data and applications. 

Gartner Insight suggests 45 percent of IT spending will shift from traditional solutions to the cloud by 2024. Your organization is likely already using some form of a cloud solution, whether it's sporadic public cloud workloads or experimenting with more advanced architectures like microservices. The key question is how you expand your cloud presence to gain maximum value and momentum throughout your cloud journey.

As a result, it's no surprise that many organizations have already embraced some form of "cloud smart" mindset, and more are doing so every day. By migrating certain data and applications to the cloud, they've learned to appreciate the breadth of business benefits of the cloud: increased reliability, scalability, agility and flexibility; modernized applications and services; enhanced security; and reduced operational cost and complexity.

From a dollars-and-cents standpoint alone, the cloud makes sound economic sense. By deploying and maintaining a traditional fixed-cost data center infrastructure, you pay for maximum capacity even during off-peak loads. Whereas the autoscaling attributes of the cloud guarantee you pay only for what you use.

The cloud also helps you to accelerate business transformation. To compete and thrive in the modern Digital Age it's essential to be able to flexibly and intelligently manage your most valuable asset: your data. You need to be able to move data where it needs to be in real time, keeping sensitive data wherever it is most secure while managing data across a multicloud environment.

Cloud smart strategy keys

To derive maximum value from your cloud presence, you need a well-conceived, thorough and holistic strategy. Below are some key considerations to help your team begin developing a smart cloud strategy.

The importance of properly placing applications

To define a comprehensive strategy, you need to consider critical factors such as streamlining the proper mix, placement and delivery of applications to have a positive impact on business operations.

You need to determine which applications to keep on-premises and which to migrate to the cloud for fast, on-demand delivery, rapid software updates and patches, and even usage and productivity tracking. This includes considering whether any applications are optimal for a microservices architecture and if any apps should be retired altogether in favor of a new generation of cloud-based software.

Beyond applications, your team needs to evaluate how and where data fits into the cloud migration mix. Determining if data is being handled optimally relies on factors like where your data lives, where it's backed up, whether it exists in different areas or platforms and if it's hot or cold data.

The need for strategic data placement becomes increasingly critical as enterprises move away from the traditional data center infrastructure and physical hardware becomes more expensive to house, maintain and upgrade. Allocating data to the most appropriate locations for the correct purposes is essential for achieving optimal performance from applications.

Ubiquitous connectivity is critical in a data-driven world 

Cloud networking is a complicated endeavor. But that technical complexity should be invisible to its end users. A smart cloud strategy enables colleagues, customers and partners to collaborate with ease regardless of geographic location or time zone. A smart approach ensures you maximize productivity and unleash your organization's creativity and innovation.

By running modern applications based in the cloud and through software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers, you can leverage fresh capabilities to offer improved interfaces and richer experiences. This requires careful evaluation of each cloud-hosted application to determine which platform will be most effective in achieving overall cloud objectives. Ideally, your smart cloud networking strategy will remain transparent, enabling the seamless collaboration you require.

A cloud smart security strategy is increasingly vital 

A comprehensive security approach is vital when migrating some or all business assets to the cloud. Your team needs to ensure that security policies account for increased connectivity beyond the firewall and that your cloud providers can align with your needs and pertinent compliance and regulatory requirements. 

To evaluate your true security status, you need to assess your risks and how they're being covered. You also need to consider whether your cloud provider's security policies align with your requirements and how your security influences your cloud migration plans.

Each element of a secure, smart cloud strategy must contribute to the overall effort as part of a coherent, orchestrated plan. A successful security transformation employs every component of an enterprise security posture, from security architecture and next-generation firewall platforms to endpoint protection enterprise segmentation and management of identities and access.

Taking a holistic security approach helps you to connect your business goals and objectives to technical solutions. As a result, this leads to more-effective outcomes while aligning with your overall enterprise architecture efforts.

Going cloud first

The rapid growth of data and trends like digital transformation means it's increasingly important to take a cloud-first strategy. Going cloud-first refers to considering cloud-based solutions before any other option when implementing new IT initiatives and projects, as opposed to only using the cloud. 

A cloud-first approach requires a shift in mindset whereby you constantly ask questions with the cloud top of mind. For example, when launching a new project, you need to consider how it can be executed in the cloud and, if it can't, how you can change that. 

A smart cloud-first strategy has a significant effect across your organization. For example, your cloud procurement process will be vastly different from how you purchase traditional hardware and software as it doesn't involve physical assets. You may also need to restructure the business to allocate more resources to cloud solutions and hire new talent with cloud expertise.  

Maintain your data center services

When considering moving to the cloud, it can be easy to assume that means cutting ties with your data center services. However, understanding which applications and data are best suited to the cloud or staying on-prem for compliance purposes is a crucial component of a cloud smart strategy for cultural and technical reasons. Furthermore, bringing together cloud and data center services teams can help you create cohesive and standardized processes that help your employees be as productive as possible across all infrastructure platforms.

Keep it simple

Cloud providers introduce vast amounts of new features every year, which can introduce new layers of complexity that slow down your cloud journey. Avoiding this complexity relies on taking a "keep it simple" approach that's designed to consider new challenges, use proven architectures and frameworks, and avoid potential security issues or excessive components and integrations.

Maximize your cloud smart benefits

Moving to the cloud can be a considerable cultural and financial investment. To get the most out of your cloud smart approach, you need to lift and transform as opposed to lift and shift. This means evaluating the business value of applications and assessing which applications and workloads need to be optimized when resources are available.

A trusted platform for a cloud smart strategy 

The world's leading cloud service providers use Intel's advanced technologies for automation, orchestration and a wide spectrum of cloud workloads. WWT works with Intel to provide a reliable, agile foundation for its own cloud architecture solutions. Intel technologies are uniquely architected for today's evolving smart cloud infrastructure needs, offering you industry-leading levels of energy efficiency and system-level performance.

Virtually all WWT deployments are based on Intel® architecture. For example, most servers at the heart of our on-prem solutions, as well as the great majority of data centers and cloud service providers, are powered by the latest technologies including 2nd generation Intel Xeon® Scalable processors, specially designed for high-performance computing and other demanding data center applications. They also feature Intel Optane™ DC persistent memory, workload-optimized to deliver affordable large capacity and data persistence. WWT is leveraging these and other Intel technology solutions for networking, security, storage, and computing performance.

Edge-to-cloud expertise guides every stage of your cloud journey

While WWT recognizes the cloud can reduce operational complexity, we know it can also create new levels of complexity for those tasked with deploying a smart cloud strategy. To get the most value from your technology investment, it's essential to retain the services of a highly experienced specialist who's well-versed in all aspects of IT, from the edge to the cloud. For this purpose, WWT retains a multidisciplinary team of specialists in all facets of cloud architecture, as well as the hardware and software that drives every cloud solution. And, WWT can step in at every phase of the cloud journey.

As organizations advance and evolve their cloud sophistication, so do the types of services they need — from assessment to applications. For example, some organizations are more advanced in their cloud infrastructure and just help with cloud applications. Whatever stage is required, WWT is uniquely positioned to engage and assist in discovery, candidacy assessment, application deep dive, foundational evaluation and implementation.

What's your cloud smart strategy?

Being in the cloud is easy. Creating a sensible, high-performance, cost-effective and secure enterprise multicloud presence, not so much.

As we've shown, a lot of deliberation, planning and expertise goes into architecting a successful cloud-smart capability. These were just a few considerations to consider, but there are infinitely more. Whether you're presently in the cloud or planning your migration, make sure you're realizing the true value of the cloud by formulating a solid, holistic and thorough cloud strategy.